2013

2013

September 30, 2013
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S SPEECH TO THE UN Idealism and Realism

September 17, 2013
THE HORRIFIC EVENTS AT THE NAVY YARD ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2013

July, 3, 2013
MEET TEXAS SENATOR WENDY DAVIS IN D.C. ON THURSDAY, JULY 11TH AND HELP TURN TEXAS BLUE AGAIN!

June 19, 2013
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE REFORM OF U.S. SENATE RULES TO END OBSTRUCTION AND GRIDLOCK

June 19, 2013
RESOLUTION URGING FURTHER ACTION ON CLOSING GUANTANAMO

June 10, 2013
GOOD NEWS ON GLOBAL POVERTY: AND GOOD NEWS FOR THE UN’S MILLENNIAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS

May 29, 2013
NEW POSITION: ANTI GOVERNMENT IDEOLOGY POSITION

April 23, 2013
WNDC STATEMENT ON INDEPENDENT COMMISSION REPORT DOCUMENTING US TORTURE PRACTICES: “WHAT VALUES DO AMERICANS STAND FOR? THAT IS THE ULTIMATE QUESTION.”

April 18, 2013
WNDC STATEMENT ON FAILURE OF THE U.S. SENATE TO ENACT GUN VIOLENCE LEGISLATION: SHAME AND DISGRACE

March 28, 2013

WNDC STATEMENT: SHOCKING MURDER OF CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVIST IN PAKISTAN

February 5, 2013
WNDC STATEMENT: TRIBUTE TO HILLARY CLINTON

January 31, 2013
YESTERDAY AT THE SENATE JUDICIARY HEARING: MOMS NEED “SCARY-LOOKING GUNS?”

January 24, 2013
FILIBUSTER REFORM COMPROMISE IN THE SENATE: MISSING TEETH AND A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

January 17, 2013
OBAMA STEPS UP TO THE PLATE ON STOPPING GUN VIOLENCE


 September 30, 2013

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S SPEECH TO THE UN
Idealism and Realism

In his address to the UN President Obama’s appeal to the international community and his US public was basically that “if we can get our act together, we can do anything – and let’s start.” Obama clearly wants to start with the most obvious task: assuring that weapons of mass destruction are never used.

The President’s speech has been attacked from every side of the US political spectrum, despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact, that he may be poised for two extraordinary successes vis a vis Iran and Syria, both centered on weapons of mass destruction. On the left he is accused of being part of the cold blooded “realist” school of foreign policy, and, rather contradictorily, of being an arrogant American exceptionalist.  He did say he believed America was “exceptional”, which he then qualified “in its willingness to act in the interests of all.” The realist accusation settles around the fact that he didn’t list democracy as a “core” US interest.

It is difficult to say what is cold blooded about finding a realistic way to accomplish the goal of assuring that weapons of mass destruction are never used. Such an achievement would immeasurably enhance the powerful good that international cooperation can bring to all peoples. It is also not true that the President is backing away from supporting global democratic development. He is making sure we aren’t just speechifying on violation of the chemical weapons ban, as we are so often just speechifying on democracy. Obama’s point that it isn’t up to us to do enforce democracy on a state (“Iraq shows us that democracy cannot simply be imposed by force”); it is up to us to see that the chemical weapons ban isn’t violated. There are definable things we must do and definable principles we should support, and with democracy and human rights “these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and peoples of the region.”

The President wants to be effective. In his view, ideals give us our practical marching orders. And to the criticism that we are again arrogantly claiming to be exceptional he is saying rulers use that accusation to avoid doing anything themselves, in other words if you want a disengaged, mild US you are going to have violent chaos to deal with. This too is realism.

Nothing can be accomplished without both idealism and realism. The President started his address to the UN:

“For most of recorded history, individual aspirations were subject to the whims of tyrants and empires and divisions of race and religion and tribe were settled through the sword and the clash of armies. The idea that nations and peoples could come together in peace to solve their disputes and advance a common prosperity seemed unimaginable. It took the awful carnage of two world wars to shift our thinking. The leaders who built the United Nations… gave us this institution, believing that it could allow us to resolve conflicts, enforce rules of behavior and build habits of cooperation that would grow stronger over time.”

Obama worries we aren’t doing any of these three things, and that, in fact, we aren’t even at the starting point. A starting point on Syria is enforcing the ban on chemical weapons, agreed to by 98% of humanity. It is strengthened, he said, by “the searing memories of soldiers suffocated in the trenches, Jews slaughtered in gas chambers, Iranians poisoned in the many tens of thousands”….His exhortation to the UN was that  there must be consequences if Syria fails to do so. “If we cannot agree even on this, then it will show that the United Nations is incapable of enforcing the most basic of international laws.”

Over and over again Obama points out how important getting others to go along with us is. His multilateralism is in sharp contrast to the unilateralism of his predecessor George W. Bush. This is a major contribution of Obama’s legacy, in fact, if the peaceful international approach to Syria he has brought about works he will have a stunning legacy to point to.

He ended his speech.

“I know what side of history I want the United States of America to be on…time and again, nations and people have shown our capacity to change, to live up to humanity’s highest ideals, to choose our better history.

Who are we to believe that today’s challenges cannot be overcome when we’ve seen what changes the human spirit can bring? Who in this hall can argue that the future belongs to those who seek to repress that spirit rather than those who seek to liberate it?”

Obama’s message is supremely important for our current, small minded and hate filled political culture. We can think big about how the big ideals we should share can be realized, and then realize them.

– Elizabeth Clark, Chair, Human Rights and International Organizations Task Force

 


 

September 17, 2013

THE HORRIFIC EVENTS AT THE NAVY YARD ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2013

It is with disbelief and heavy hearts that we once again endure a heinous act of gun violence, and, now, so closely, in our Nation’s Capital. Our thoughts, prayers, and support go out to the immediate victims, and to the many, many other survivors of this horrific act that will change their lives forever.

We continue to strive for sensible and effective change in our nation’s gun laws. We continue to passionately advocate for background checks of gun-buyers as the single-most important strategy to save lives. We remain disappointed that this common-sense and effective approach seems to increasingly fall on the deaf ears of our lawmakers.

In the days ahead we hope for the healing of all victims of gun violence who remain in pain, and pray that this latest act of devastation will restore a sense of humanity to those who have most aggressively resisted our call to reason and legislative action.


 

July 3, 2013
MEET TEXAS SENATOR WENDY DAVIS IN D.C. ON THURSDAY, JULY 11TH AND HELP TURN TEXAS BLUE AGAIN!

WHAT: BATTLE GROUND TEXAS D.C. RECEPTION
WHERE:
THE HAMILTON, 600 14th Street, NW
WHEN:
THURSDAY, JULY 11TH, 2013, 6:00-8:00 P.M.
HOW MUCH: CONTRIBUTIONS START AT $50
RSVP HERE
NOTE:
Battleground Texas is the organization launched by former Obama campaign officials with the goal of helping Democrats compete in the nation’s largest GOP stronghold.

 


June 19, 2013
RESOLUTION SUPPORTING THE REFORM OF U.S. SENATE RULES TO END OBSTRUCTION AND GRIDLOCK

WHEREAS: The current procedural rules of the U.S. Senate are enabling continued obstruction on a range of critical issues facing our country; and

WHEREAS: The abuse, in particular, of the filibuster for political reasons, has reached a critical stage and is paralyzing the Senate – including the failure to confirm The President’s cabinet and judicial positions ; and

WHEREAS: Since 2007 when the Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate, we have witnessed the three highest total numbers of filibusters in history; and

WHEREAS: At the beginning of the 113th Congress, the Senate debated filibuster and rules reform and had a chance to enact meaningful reform; instead, Senators agreed on a weak compromise, allowing an obstructionist minority to continue demanding a 60-vote supermajority for every piece of legislation and every nomination; and

WHEREAS: The most recent victim of a broken Senate was the Manchin-Toomey amendment to expand background checks for certain types of gun sales, a measure which was supported by a majority in the U.S. Senate and by 90% of the American public; and

WHEREAS: The National Federation of Democratic Women believes that democracy works best when a Congress works for the long-term national interests of the country and where a clear will of the majority is allowed to be heard and that abuse of long-standing rules – in particular the filibuster — plays into the hands of those who would like to see us flounder and fail as a nation; and

WHEREAS: The words of Alexander Hamilton are worth repeating during this crisis: In Federalist Paper No. 75 he dismissed requiring a supermajority rule for a quorum, saying that such a rule would have the effect of subjecting “the sense of the majority to that of the minority.” He added that “the history of every political establishment in which this principle has prevailed is a history of impotence, perplexity and disorder;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the National Federation of Democratic Women hereby declares its full support for meaningful reform of U.S. Senate rules, including the end of obstruction caused by the continued abuse of the filibuster; and that it hereby declares its support for the goals of the Fix the Senate Now Coalition in order to ensure that fairness and honor to the democratic process can be reclaimed;

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That the Secretary of the National Federation of Democratic Women forward a copy of this resolution to all chartered National Federation of Democratic Clubs throughout the country.

Submitted by WNDC to the National Federation of Democratic Women for consideration at its annual convention. Resolution passed Federation by unanimous consent on June 16, 2013.


 

June 19, 2013
RESOLUTION URGING FURTHER ACTION ON CLOSING GUANTANAMO

WHEREAS: A report issued by the Constitution Project’s independent bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment on April 17 definitively establishes that the United States engaged in torture during the Bush administration. The President and top advisors engaged personally in detailed discussions on the practices approved – a lamentable first in American history.

WHEREAS: The report makes clear that the torture clearly violated both US laws and treaty obligations including the International Convention Against Torture.

WHEREAS: In the Report, Commission Chair Asa Hutchinson, former GOP congressman and Undersecretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, vigorously rejected the idea that torture was a necessary anti terrorism tool, pointing out that traditional methods of interrogation work and that torture wastes investigators time unraveling the lies given to them to stop the infliction of pain.

WHEREAS: Even though President Obama has formally rejected the practice of torture, many key issues remain:

• The Obama Administration uses the State Secrets Doctrine to prevent information about torture coming out in litigation brought against the government by detainees, alleging torture.

• Obama’s banning of torture was done by Executive Order, and could be altered by a successor with the stroke of a pen.

• Guantanamo detainees are being force fed, a practice opposed by the International Red Cross, and other international organizations as inhumane.

• Prisoners remaining at Guantanamo have not been granted a trial, a situation the US calls a human rights violation when it occurs in other countries, nor thanks to US law – pushed by congressional Republicans – can they be transferred to the United States.

• A separate 6,000-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, based on Central Intelligence Agency records, has yet to be declassified and made public. The next step should be its release.
• Guantanamo is not closed.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That the National Federation of Democratic Women calls for the declassification of the Senate Intelligence Committee Report and for all such actions that are necessary to reach the goal of closing Guantanamo. We believe, with Task Force Chair Hutchinson, that the ultimate question is “What values do Americans stand for?”

Submitted by WNDC to the National Federation of Democratic Women for consideration at its annual convention.  Resolution passed Federation by unanimous consent on June 16, 2013.



June 10, 2013
GOOD NEWS ON GLOBAL POVERTY: AND GOOD NEWS FOR THE UN’S MILLENNIAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS

The June 7 edition of The Economist led with an astonishing report: the percentage of the world’s population living in poverty over the period 2000-2015 has been cut in half. Significantly the Economist’s report gave credit for making this global uplift happen to an international agreement of 147 countries to the UN Millennial Development Goals (MDGs). In 1990, 43 % of the world’s population lived below the poverty line (then defined as $1 a day). By 2010 it was 21% (poverty line then defined as $1.25 a day). There will be difficulties, but the Economist sees no reason not to adopt a goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030.

Economic growth was the main reason for the reduction in extreme poverty, and almost three quarters of it took place in China. However, inequality is important. “Growth alone does not guarantee less poverty. Income distribution matters too. ….More equal countries cut poverty further and faster than unequal ones. (Martin Ravallion, World Bank head of research) reckons that a 1% increase in incomes cut poverty by 0.6% in the most unequal countries, but by 4.3% in the most equal ones.”

The Economist cites the supportive conclusions of a Brookings Report, The Final Countdown: prospects for ending extreme poverty by 2030.” That report however did not lead with the importance of international cooperation within the UN system. One can speculate that in the present US political climate any shout out for the UN would risk Brookings non-partisan tax status.

http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21578643-world-has-astonishing-chance-take-billion-people-out-extreme-poverty-2030-not?fsrc=scn/tw/te/pe/im/notalwayswithus

http://www.brookings.edu/research/interactives/2013/ending-extreme-poverty

 


May 29, 2013
NEW POSITION: ANTI GOVERNMENT IDEOLOGY POSITION

Note: We pursue our public policy goals within a political culture. One important aspect of the political culture today is the power of anti-government ideology. We have included a new position specifically on this ideology.

A group on the radical right summoned supporters to a rally on July 4, 2013, telling them to openly carry guns as a public notice that the reason for owning guns was for use in a possible insurrection against a tyrannical United States
government. This is the extreme that anti government ideology has reached. The ideology not only works against finding solutions to problems faced by our communities and our nation, but it supports an even more extreme mindset that sees any negative event, even a tornado, as caused by a government conspiracy.

This ideology is a threat to democracy. Representative government, with public officials elected by people, is central to democracy. It is the way for individuals to have power over decisions that affect their lives, through holding their public officials accountable. In its extreme, smaller government means that accountability is diminished. Democracy is diminished.

All Public Policy task forces will highlight, when appropriate, the positive role of government in their issue areas, including:

— The Social Safety Net. Our federal system of government is what our Founding Fathers established after they fought and won the War of Independence from our colonial power. To be virulently anti government is to reject American history and its triumphs. These triumphs include establishing efficient systems for providing a minimum level of support and assistance to all Americans in need, including their health care needs.

— Fighting Corruption and Inefficiency. Anti government fanatics debase public service and glorify only one part of our economy – private sector business. This is true even when large business corporations outsource their work overseas and evade taxes, leaving little benefit to American citizens from their operations. Often these anti government business leaders benefit from tax payer money when governments outsource their functions to them at higher cost, including the costs of corruption, and decreased efficiency.

— Public Service Professions. These make our communities and nation strong and vibrant. Diplomats, police officers, teachers, regulators, inspectors, city planners and all civil servants give essential services that radical libertarianism cannot provide.

— Impact on Women. Increased privatization of public sector jobs reduces pressure on fair employment practices and the availability of jobs for women. It would maintain wage inequality.

— Food and Public Safety. The terrible fertilizer plant explosion in Texas in the spring of 2013 is but one example of what happens when government is starved of the funds necessary to perform the functions needed to keep the public and workers safe. That plant had been cited for permit failures, but had had no inspections from the understaffed Occupational Safety and Health Administration. It also failed to file required reports to the Department of Homeland Security.


April 23, 2013

STATEMENT ON INDEPENDENT COMMISSION REPORT DOCUMENTING US TORTURE PRACTICES: “WHAT VALUES DO AMERICANS STAND FOR? THAT IS THE ULTIMATE QUESTION.”

A report issued by the Independent Bipartisan Task Force on Detainee Treatment on April 17 definitively establishes that the United States engaged in torture during the Bush administration. The President and top advisors engaged personally in detailed discussions on the practices approved – a lamentable first in American history.

For a brief inglorious period under the Bush Administration techniques such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation and stress positions were not defined as torture by the State Department’s Office of Legal Council. The OLC decisions were subsequently overturned by US courts, which defined the practices as torture. As the report makes clear, the torture sanctioned at the highest levels clearly violated both US laws and treaty obligations including the International Convention Against Torture.

In the report Commission Chair Asa Hutchinson, former GOP congressman and Undersecretary of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush, vigorously rejected the idea that torture was a necessary anti terrorism tool, pointing out that traditional methods of interrogation work and that torture wastes investigators time unraveling the lies given to them to stop the infliction of pain. “Besides,” Hutchinson said, “what values do America stand for? That is the ultimate question.”

Even though President Obama has formally rejected the practice of torture, we cannot treat torture as a stale story. Many issues remain:

  • The Obama Administration uses the State Secrets Doctrine to prevent information about torture coming out in litigation brought against the government by detainees, alleging torture.
  • Obama’s banning of torture was done by Executive Order, and could be altered by a successor with the stroke of a pen.
  • Guantanamo detainees are being force fed, a practice opposed by the International Red Cross, and other international organizations as inhumane.
  • Prisoners remaining at Guantanamo have not been granted a trial, a situation the US calls a human rights violation when it occurs in other countries, nor thanks to US law – pushed by the Republicans – can they be transferred to the United States.
  • A separate 6,000-page report by the Senate Intelligence Committee, based on Central Intelligence Agency records, has yet to be declassified and made public. The next step should be its release.
  • Guantanamo is not closed.

In its early years the WNDC was the forum for First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s reform agenda. As Chairperson of the UN Council on Human Rights she was a key figure in the writing of the UN Declaration of Human Rights and its passage by the UN. We feel a special obligation to continue her work on human rights and urge continued actions to stop torture and other gross violations of human rights.

 


 

 

April 18, 2013
WNDC STATEMENT ON FAILURE OF THE U.S. SENATE TO ENACT GUN VIOLENCE LEGISLATION: SHAME AND DISGRACE

The United States Senate brought dishonor upon our country yesterday. What should have been a clarifying moment to come out strong for a perfectly reasonable and bipartisan compromise to address the weaknesses in our current gun background checks, ended in failure, because enough Senators – including Democrats — chose their own political expediency over the country’s public health and safety concerns.

When our elected officials refuse to listen to 90% of Americans – including gun owners — and instead choose to do the bidding of the gun industry, our Democracy has failed us. President Barack Obama said soon after the vote that ‘‘the gun lobby and its allies’’ used lies and distortion to thwart legislation in the US Senate that would have expanded background checks for firearms purchases and vowed that “anyone who thinks this is going away is sorely mistaken.”

The Center for American Progress reported, “That wasn’t the end of it. A bipartisan plan to crack down on gun trafficking — a plan even the NRA agreed to — also failed to attract the necessary 60 votes. A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, something backed by a majority of Americans, was also voted down. Worse yet, all of this happened as Newtown families and other victims of gun violence looked on from the Senate gallery. One woman, a survivor of the Tucson shooting, shouted ‘shame on you!’ after they watched senators vote down background checks.”

What did we activists do wrong? Or was failure due to the fact that there is no true monetary counterweight to the enormous and obscene war chest of the gun lobby? Certainly, the failure to enact any meaningful reform of Senate filibuster rules is to blame, when every vote now must pass the 60-vote threshold rule. Perhaps and most decidedly it was the failure to act more expeditiously after the December 14th Newtown massacre, as our Ad Hoc Committee to Prevent Gun Violence advocated Congress should have done. We tried on all fronts.

The Woman’s National Democratic Club refuses to accept that the 33,000 deaths each year from gun violence is acceptable and is “just the way it is.” We vow, along with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, to see that our elected officials in the US Congress show the same sort of courage that the adults at Sandy Hook Elementary exhibited when they were gunned down trying to shield their young school children.

Shame on You, U.S. Senate! You have left a temporary void in our activist hearts and a permanent hole in the hearts of the victims of gun violence!

Click here for Member comments


 

March 28, 2013

WNDC STATEMENT: SHOCKING MURDER OF CIVIL SOCIETY ACTIVIST IN PAKISTAN

WNDC members want to express shock and outrage at the cowardly murder of Parveen Rehman, Pakistan’s top development and civil society activist on March 13. She was killed by four gunmen while traveling in her car near the western Orangi area of Karachi, one of the largest squatter settlements in Asia, according to the BBC news. She had been under threat to her life for years, presumably because her work impinged on the activities of assorted land mafias and others who exploited the poor.

Unfortunately her murder is not a unique example of attacks on those, who like Rehman, are committed and courageous defenders of the rights of the dispossessed and disadvantaged. The international community must speak out strongly in defense of the mission of these heroes.

An architect by training, Rehman left a prominent architectural firm to devote her life to social and community service.

She was the Director of the Orangi Pilot Project (OPP) Research and Training Institute. Her work won international recognition. She won the U.N. Habitat Award in 2001. The World Bank has scheduled a memorial service for her.

Rehman’s sister, Aquila Ismail, was a guest speaker at the WNDC luncheon on July 26, 2012 where she presented her book, Of Martyrs and Marigolds. She and other members of Rehman’s family have the sincere sympathy of all members of the WNDC on their loss.

 


February 5, 2013
WNDC STATEMENT: TRIBUTE TO HILLARY CLINTON

Hillary Clinton stepped down as U.S. Secretary of State last Friday. We at the WNDC express our very deepest admiration for her outsize service to her country and to her world. Her contribution to women’s rights will endure. She is always confident to be herself, encouraging us all to feel, as she does, that we can surmount the most daunting obstacles, while maintaining a joy in the richness of our lives. We will miss her laugh.

Clinton is unfairly criticized for not having “signature achievements” or a definable vision for the United States in the world. This is not true. Not hiding her intellectual sophistication, she said in a valedictory speech: “We do need a new architecture for this new world: more Frank Gehry than formal Greek,”

She has been building that new world, understanding that different situations need different approaches, the different sizes and shapes of a Frank Gehry building. There is no one size fits all, but all are connected under an undulating roof of basic principles, most especially human rights.

She is a realist. U.S. interests she understands must be seen as distinct but also dependent on a functioning international system.

A rigid Greek architecture will not allow the United States to take advantage of opportunities to deal with threats to the United States, indeed humankind, with rogue states and failed states and weapons in the wrong hands. She has been decisive in jumping in and making bets she has played out successfully.

The release of Burmese democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and the movement of Burma into the international system is not just a triumph for human rights but also for international security. Her fingerprints are all over the formation of an international coalition to deal with a volatile situation in Libya by taking military action to defeat dictator Gaddafi. She made the correct bet the violent situation in Sudan would greatly improve if the U.S. backed the referendum on the independence of South Sudan and supported its results. As she said of Syria “We have worked assiduously, first to create some kind of legitimate opposition….We have been the architect and main mover of very tough sanctions against Assad.”

She and the President have turned around international respect for the U.S. from its low at the end of the Bush 43 administration, a major accomplishment. She also understood that her vision for a new world requires the team of professionals she led in the State department. As the world gets ever more complex, acting effectively takes an extraordinary high level of understanding of different cultures and power structures. We will miss the master of that art.


January 31, 2013
YESTERDAY AT THE SENATE JUDICIARY HEARING: MOMS NEED “SCARY-LOOKING GUNS?”

At its first hearing since the Newtown massacre, the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday heard testimony from five witnesses who offered stark and contrasting views on how to curb more gun violence. There was plenty of scary talk to go around, but surprisingly the only female witness on the panel offered the most puzzling and frightening testimony. Gayle Trotter, a lawyer, senior fellow at the Independent Women’s Forum (a tax-exempt organization to make conservative ideas more attractive to women), and mother of 6 children, argued repeatedly and combatively that assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are essential for women to defend their children from random armed thugs invading their homes. She further posited that the most important thing about assault weapons for women’s defense was how they look. Quote: “And the peace of mind she has…knowing she has a scary-looking gun gives her more courage when she’s fighting hardened violent criminals.”

The Woman’s National Democratic Club believes such statements are outrageous, and frankly, offensive to mothers like many of us across the country. As Sen. Claire McCaskill said after the hearing, “I don’t know very many mothers that want a 30-round clip in their home around their babies. It is really extreme.” We ask how Ms. Trotter would protect those 6 children in a chaotic situation where she is spraying the room with bullets from her AK-47. Further, to be effective, this weapon would need to be readily available to slaughter her intruders instead of being locked away so that her children are protected each day. (Might we suggest that Ms. Trotter look into a good security system, deadbolt locks, or perhaps a pit bull?) The Women Against Gun Violence cites studies indicating that the risk of a gun in the home is greater than the benefit, but let’s not let the facts get in the way. Equally offensive is Ms. Trotter’s hypocrisy. The Huffington Post reported shortly after the hearing, “Despite her strong emphasis on the need to prevent violent crimes against women at home, Trotter is an outspoken opponent of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), a law designed to aid women faced with domestic violence.”

The WNDC hopes more sensible minds will prevail in the gun violence debate and ultimate passage of legislation. The best legacy to honor the lives lost in Newtown and so many other towns is for Members of Congress to place political expediency aside and instead, do what’s right and act. In the words of former U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords in her surprise and riveting testimony yesterday, “Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”


January 24, 2013
FILIBUSTER REFORM COMPROMISE IN THE SENATE: MISSING TEETH AND A MISSED OPPORTUNITY

The Woman’s National Democratic Club is disheartened by the agreement Senate Majority Leader Reid and Minority Leader McConnell reached yesterday to reform Senate rules. WNDC participated in a progressive coalition calling for meaningful Senate Rules reform, in particular, a demand for the talking filibuster. Requiring Senators to explain, in person on the Senate floor, why they are objecting to legislation was at the heart of the coalition’s demands. We believe removing “ghost filibusters” would have restored accountability and deliberation to this body which has become paralyzed and dysfunctional.

Some minor improvements were made to speed up less-controversial Senate debate procedures and court nominations; however, we continue to think that ending the 60-vote requirement is necessary to satisfactorily conduct most Senate business. Also not included in the agreement was a change that would have shifted the burden to the minority by forcing it to find 41 votes to continue blocking legislation. The new rules are said to permit a so-called “gentleman’s agreement” on a motion to proceed to debate; however, based on lessons learned from the past, can we really expect the Republicans will negotiate in good faith? As a result, we fear vital bills relating to climate change, immigration reform, entitlements, gun violence prevention, et al, won’t receive the robust debate they merit because they will be subjected to continuing obstruction by the minority.

We praise the indefatigable efforts of Senators Harkin, Merkley, and Udall, as well as the leadership of the Fix the Senate Now Coalition. We at WNDC joined with the Coalition to help generate over 2.5 million emails to Senators, 100,000 phone calls, and nearly 1 million signatures delivered to Senate offices.

Several senior Democrats were in agreement with Senator Reid, fearing the tables could turn in two years. We understand that concern, but in the end, we believed that the will of the American people as encompassed in the President’s bold inauguration agenda was ultimately more important.

Resources: US Senate Guide to Cloture Rules


January 17, 2013
OBAMA STEPS UP TO THE PLATE ON STOPPING GUN VIOLENCE

The Woman’s National Democratic Club is deeply gratified that President Obama has signaled his serious intent to achieve an important reduction of gun violence in the United States. In his press conference of December 16 he promised to pursue a ban on assault weapons, a 10 round limit on ammunition magazines, universal background checks for all gun sales including private sales and a crack down on gun trafficking. He also signed 23 executive orders that would contribute to the security of American citizens through a series of common sense actions to reduce gun violence.

We also join with the President in our unending sympathy for the victims of gun homicide and mass killing. As he so beautifully expressed it, the children of Sandy Hook and their brave teachers, as well as the victims of other mass gun homicides, had wonderful lives ahead of them. They will be missed by all of us. We hope that a picture done by one of the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre given to the President by her parents will be duplicated so that many can keep a remembrance, as the President has said he will do, to rededicate ourselves to stopping gun violence.

By contrast, we are appalled that President’s opponents in the National Rifle Association leadership stooped so low as to issue an ad that accused the President of denying Americans security guards for their schools while giving his daughters the protection of security guards. This ad was beneath contempt. The children of all presidents have been assigned security guards. In addition, the ad fuels a basically seditious strain in the radical anti government right, that openly says the reason people need guns is to fight their government. In effect, the ad is saying Obama is armed, we need to be also.

The President will need all of our support in this fight for common sense gun regulation. We must stay the course with him.